The increase in the share of the cost of college should have you worried

The increase in the share of the cost of college should have you worried

It is not getting any easier to afford college, but that’s old news.

There are a lot of moving parts that contribute to the financial burden prospective, current and former college students face.  Rising tuition, increasing interest rates for student loans, depleting funds from the state and federal level and increases in peripheral costs are just a few of the major elements that make it increasingly difficult for a college student to afford college and graduate in a reasonable time frame with minimal debt.

One of the strongest illustrations of just how difficult it is for college students to manage the cost of a college degree is analyzing the student share of costs.

The Delta Cost Project database keeps comprehensive documentation of the current status of higher education.  The database accounts the change in student share of costs for institutions of higher education dating back to 2006.

The picture is not pretty.  According to the database, in only 11 states was there an overall decrease in the average annual percent change in student share of costs for public universities from 2006 to 2010.  Mississippi saw neither an increase or decrease in the same time frame.  Louisiana and Idaho each saw a decrease for student share of costs of 1.3 percent, which is significantly more than the rest of the states that saw a decrease in shared costs for students.  North Dakota, Connecticut, Vermont, Montana, West Virginia, New Hampshire, New York, Alaska and Wyoming are the only other states where students saw a decrease in the burden of cost placed upon their shoulders.

Rhode Island saw the unfortunate bump of a 5.2 percent increase in student share of costs placed on their students of higher education.  Rhode Island is the only state where the increase brakes above 5 percent and the number is significantly higher than any other institution.  Georgia and South Carolina follow behind for second and third, placing an shared cost increase of 4.5 and 4.3 respectively on their students.

The upper midwest and the south are home to some of the more student-friendly states in regards to curbing or reversing the share of costs for students.  Most of the western region and some of the mid-Atlantic states on the other hand are not as student-friendly when it comes minimizing the burden of cost over time.

This map highlights where students are more or less likely to feel an increased burden of costs for higher education.


These graphics clearly illustrate a trend of costs increasingly falling upon the student.  Why are more students having to front a higher percentage of the cost of a college education themselves?  One answer might be due to the decrease in state and local appropriations.

State and local appropriations are considered funds relegated to an institution through state legislation for operating expenses or local governmental bodies typically in the form of taxes.

The trend in decreases of state and local appropriations is strikingly correlated to the increases in student share of costs.  Only nine states saw an uptick in funding at the local level between 2006-2010.  State and local funding for Wyoming increased by 5.1 percent from 2006-2010, the greatest increase for any state.  North Dakota increased by 4 percent and Connecticut increased by 3.1 percent over the same time frame.  Oklahoma, Alaska, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri and Montana were the only other states where there was an overall annual increase in state and local appropriations from 2006-2010.

The decreases in state and local funding were much more drastic.  Again, Rhode Island saw the most drastic decrease with a drop of 13.9 percent.  Other drastic decreases in state and local funding were Massachusetts and Nevada at 12 percent and 11 percent respectively.

Again, the upper midwest illustrates and active effort to keep or increase spending on students from the state and local level.  The northeast also does a good job at increasing spending on students.  Much of the west and some of the southern Atlantic coast states have decreased student spending by dramatic rates in some places.

The map below illustrates the decreasing trend of state and local appropriations dedicated for higher education.